Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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B4real
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby B4real » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:09 am

Vickie wrote: Love and best wishes to anyone celebrating Thanksgiving... my favorite American holiday.
Vickie, Hope you have a great day!

Ah Alan, some good insights there! I know it’s too late to say “Don’t catch a summer cold” but I hope it won’t last long! Maybe some apples dipped in honey (and lemon or is that Leonard ;-) ) will help it on its way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J10bR_IuJuE

Jean, thanks for your words and as always you give me food for thought and I have to chew slowly to digest it properly. It is known that this way is most beneficial for your body and mind :)

4, I enjoyed your analogy on A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes and thanks for your other comments. Interestingly, all of those three songs you first mentioned were never sung in concert and another thing they have in common is that they all have some military mention. LC said if his father had lived he would have probably followed him into the army. His father was a Lieutenant in the Canadian Engineers in WW1. Leonard has always had an affinity to what the army represents as an orderly instructional organization. As you know he called his first tour (of duty) band The Army. In other songs there are a number of references to soldiers and war. And still speaking poetry-wise, Leonard said about Book of Mercy that he received letters about it from soldiers and people who weren’t poetry readers.

The complete song of The Captain was not sung but recited three times that I know of in the USA in 1985 at New York, Boston and Philadelphia below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIFqt5w2nrE

The Captain is mentioned in these other songs -

Go tell all the brave, young Captains at war
~ Come Spend The Morning

Everybody knows that the Captain lied
~ Everybody Knows

Nor the Captain on the hill
~ God is Alive, Magic is Afoot

And I sing this for the Captain...
You must keep it for the Captain
~ Heart With No Companion

Now I sing this for the Captain
~ Thirsty For The Kiss

From the (Captain’s) horse’s mouth, so to speak:
I began this song four years ago and it has 30 or 40 verses. I had to choose among them. This selection does not guarantee an achievement but at least proves the will of achievement. Among others, there are two lines that I find true: "Whatever makes a soldier sad, will make a killer smile." In other words, we are really a predatory species. We are unique so far as we kill for pleasure. We have to understand that we're going to meet with some people who, naturally, are killers. It's not like a soldier or self-defence. We have to get ourselves ready, otherwise we're going die by naivety. And this is the topic of "The Captain," a passing on during which the corporal and the basic soldier are really taught by the captain because he's the one who understands he has to fight. But the soldier considers that, in light of so much pain and bloodshed, his only way out is to escape from the place of war. But the captain furthers his education, saying to him "There's no decent place." ~ Paroles et Musiques Magazine 1985

I always liked Stories of the Street from when I first heard it and I would say it still is the one I prefer best of the three songs.

You know, it’s not always about what you say but how you say it .... the power of words, I’ve always loved this -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU
Be for real. Free yourself to find the real Self ~~ Me
Happiness is like learning the violin, the more you practice it the more it comes to you ~~ Me
Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind ~~ Gore Vidal
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:52 pm

Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving holiday in the US. This year, in addition to the many things I have to be thankful for, I can add the good fortune of finding this thread and its thoughtful participants. The depth of thinking behind the recent comments centered on "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" really overwhelms me, never feel that the time you spend here is wasted!

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:20 pm

B4real post wrote:You know, it’s not always about what you say but how you say it .... the power of words, I’ve always loved this -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU
I finally had a chance to look at the link you posted above. I liked it a lot!
its4inthemorning wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:52 pm
Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving holiday in the US. This year, in addition to the many things I have to be thankful for, I can add the good fortune of finding this thread and its thoughtful participants. ...
I trust your Thanksgiving was a good one 4! I agree with your thoughts of thanks for this forum. It received a prominent mention at the table during our holiday as well. How different this year has been compared to the past, and all because of what I have discovered and what I have learned on this forum from the friends I have found here.

As for Stories of the Street-
It has so many great lyrics (as usual), but my favorite lines remain ones I think we discussed during our conversation about The Window:
"And I lean from my window sill in this old hotel I chose,
One had on my suicide, one hand on the rose."
Of those, I like the second line the best, but it really needs the first to create the strong sense of place that it has.

The mention of the Cadillac and the poison glass in an earlier line makes me wonder if he was thinking of Cuba.

I also think the line--"I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world," was particularly clever. It makes me think how we all want so much out of life, even though we are only here for a blink of time. Our righteous talk of what we think we deserve and all of our desires just become mere wishes in the end.

And of course the lines about the farm and keeping all the animals warm have a special place in my heart as well. This song covers a lot of territory!

Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:08 am

The stories of the street are mine, the Spanish voices laugh.
The Cadillacs go creeping now through the night and the poison gas,
and I lean from my window sill in this old hotel I chose,
yes one hand on my suicide, one hand on the rose.

I know you've heard it's over now and war must surely come,
the cities they are broke in half and the middle men are gone.
But let me ask you one more time, O children of the dusk,
All these hunters who are shrieking now, oh do they speak for us?

And where do all these highways go, now that we are free?
Why are the armies marching still that were coming home to me?
O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel,
You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal.

The age of lust is giving birth, and both the parents ask
the nurse to tell them fairy tales on both sides of the glass.
And now the infant with his cord is hauled in like a kite,
and one eye filled with blueprints, one eye filled with night.

O come with me my little one, we will find that farm
and grow us grass and apples there and keep all the animals warm.
And if by chance I wake at night and I ask you who I am,
O take me to the slaughterhouse, I will wait there with the lamb.

With one hand on the hexagram and one hand on the girl
I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world.
We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky,
and lost among the subway crowds I try to catch your eye.

Vickie started commentary on "Stories of the Street more than a week ago, I thought I would continue with that song. I typed out the lyrics partly to facilitate making reference to them, but mostly because I find that doing so helps to immerse me in the song and helps the thinking process. (As I was copying the lyrics my mind wandered, and I imagined actually composing them, and what an accomplishment that would be! If I could sign my name to those six verses, I would remember writing them until my last day. For Cohen, however, "Stories of the Street" is merely a tiny snippet of his body of work.)

For some reason I never made the connection that Vickie did regarding the first verse. "Cadillacs" is what always threw me off, I could never make an association with any particular place until Vickie mentioned Cuba (even today Cuba is the last resting spot for old American cars, especially larger and prestigious models like Cadillacs). This, combined with the knowledge that Cohen visited Cuba during the Revolution, made things fall into place.

So, like "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes," "Stories of the Street" is primarily about war. It was probably written in the early or mid 1960s, a time when there was a growing wave of pacifism in the US (and elsewhere), especially among college students and young adults. While Cohen had reached age 30, his lifestyle would have often placed him in the midst of strong anti-war sentiment, and that would have to have had some influence on him. He used his experiences in Cuba and the Cuban Revolution to introduce the war theme into "Stories of the Street" with the "Cadillac," "old hotel," "poison gas," but the song eventually devolves into (Cohen's) attempts to reconcile the idealism of pacifism and goodness with the (unfortunate) realities of war and evil.

Some lyric interpretations (all just IMO):

"The cities they are broke in half and the middle men are gone." - People/groups that once coexisted can no longer, room for compromise on both sides is gone. This is not unlike current political conditions in the US. (But be aware that sometimes compromise is not an option: you are approaching a tee in the road beyond which is a cliff, and you want to turn right and your spouse wants to turn left; compromising (by continuing straight) can sometimes be the worst option.

"All these hunters who are shrieking now, oh do they speak for us?" - The shrieking army that says it is protecting us and has our interests at heart--I'm not so sure.

"And where do all these highways go, now that we are free? Why are the armies marching still that were coming home to me?" - Well, we've washed our hands of war and armies...but is this a wise position? Is it a sustainable position?

"O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel, You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal." - Lovely lyrics that I cannot fit into my template.

"The age of birth....one eye filled with night." - These were always among my very favorite Cohen lyrics even during the years and years that I did not try to analyze them. Here, the war/peace or war/antiwar theme has become simply good versus evil. God and Satan produce a child, and each hopes the child will follow in his footsteps. The infant sees the dilemma he will face and tries to flee, but is hauled back. He resigns himself to a life of internal conflict between hope and good (blueprints) and bad and evil (night).

"O come with me....all the animals warm." - Also exquisite lyrics. We will defy all the odds and achieve our own little Eden and ignore the world.

"And if by chance....with the lamb." - I struggle with an interpretation of this poignant line, any help?

"With one hand on....all men call the world." - As Vickie interpreted, life is a balancing act and a wishing well all rolled into one, war vs peace, good vs evil, spiritual (hexagram) vs carnal (girl). And although scientists will continue to try, humans will never fully understand life.

"We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky, and lost among the subway crowds I try to catch your eye." - These deep thoughts make my brain hurt, I think I'll take a break and try to pick up that woman; Cohen brings it all back home!

We just had our first (very light) snowfall of the season, so I guess that means that B4 and Alan are getting their beachwear out of storage.

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:56 am

its4inthemorning post wrote: "And if by chance....with the lamb." - I struggle with an interpretation of this poignant line, any help?
So nice to hear from you 4! I know this is a busy a time for you, so I have been hoping you could find time to write.

I am just writing quick in response to your comment about this line and will write more when I have time, but your post was very good and thought provoking.

I think the answer to the interpretation of that line lies in your interpretation of the line that comes before it.
"O come with me....all the animals warm." - Also exquisite lyrics. We will defy all the odds and achieve our own little Eden and ignore the world.
When Leonard said,
"And if by chance I wake at night and I ask you who I am,
O take me to the slaughterhouse, I will wait there with the lamb."
I think he might have meant "If I dare to be so impudent as to not appreciate this little Eden we have achieved, or (worse) question it's value and/or my place in it, then just kill me, because obviously, I am not worthy of it"

Of course I am just guessing, but the more I learn about Leonard Cohen, the more I feel that although he questioned so many things and got fired up about stuff and sometimes made crazy choices in his life, what he really valued most of all was a nice quiet, simple life. I think he saw that sometimes his need for peace and obscurity was in conflict with some of his other desires.

Sorry I don't have time now to say more about your post but I will when I can. This coming week is the last week of school before winter break, and in my infinite wisdom (ha-ha!), I scheduled a Book Fair in the library. Plus it is Hanukkah this week!

As for the weather here in Idaho... we have no snow yet, but it has been in the 20's (Fahrenheit) nightly and so begins my yearly concern regarding the comfort of the donkeys and chickens!

Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:41 am

The Cohencentric website has featured a number of videos and photos from the 2013 Australia tour recently, didn't see Bev or Alan, but there was a reference to and photo of the rose Bev threw on stage at Townsville! Check it out.

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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AlanM
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby AlanM » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:51 am

HI 4
I'm still considering your post on Stories and in the end I may not have much to add.
Regarding Cohencentric, the good doctor is very kind to me and often promotes my videos.
I can't remember which were the most recent, but they were there, under my YouTube name AlanM5049.
They are also all here: https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U&pi=1

Best wishes,
Alan

p.s. Avalanche from Sydney in 2010, the first LC video I recorded and posted, is featured today!
Also some still photos from Adelaide 2013.
Too much Leonard Cohen is never enough.
London 1972, Adelaide 1980, 1985, 2009
Sydney 2010; Adelaide 2010
Sydney 2013 X2; Melbourne 2013; Adelaide 2013
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Jean Fournell
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby Jean Fournell » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:36 pm

Its4inthemorning, I like your take on "Stories of the Street"!

Here a few additions, as they come to mind:

"I know you've heard it's over now and war must surely come"
Bob Dylan has "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" on his 1965 album "Bringing It All Back Home".
The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis had brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

"But let me ask you one more time, O children of the dusk,
All these hunters who are shrieking now oh do they speak for us?"
Bob Dylan's 1964 album "The Times They Are a-Changin'" begins with the title song.
Others had: "The bomb has already dropped, and we are the mutants."
Hippies and their persecutors.
But who is asking? Who is "us"?

"Why are the armies marching still that were coming home to me?"
If the armies had indeed reached home, they should have been disbanded. And not keep on marching. The Cold War is not over.
Coming home to him? Who is he?

"O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel,
You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal."
Happy appearances, just like on advertising posters. And the effort of keeping up these appearances estranges people from themselves yet a bit more.

"The age of lust is giving birth, and both the parents ask
the nurse to tell them fairy tales on both sides of the glass."
Why do they need those fairy tales? Bob Dylan has "Masters of War" on his 1963 album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan", with the lines:
"You’ve thrown the worst fear / That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children / Into the world"

"And now the infant with his cord is hauled in like a kite,
and one eye filled with blueprints, one eye filled with night."
Here I beg to differ, Its4inthemorning:
The infant does not try to flee. It seemed he was flying free, but now he's hauled down to Earth by his umbilical cord, into his incarnation.
Both day and night are required for a 24-hour Day. And right in the eye of the Yin-hurricane, there is Yang; and right in the eye of the Yang-hurricane, there is Yin.

"O come with me my little one, we will find that farm
and grow us grass and apples there and keep all the animals warm.
And if by chance I wake at night and I ask you who I am,
O take me to the slaughterhouse, I will wait there with the lamb."
The fairy tale continued.
The grass is presumably not being grown for its beauty, but in order to be smoked. The apples will presumably be eaten, playing Adam and Eve.
"Make love not war" and "Don't bogart that joint, my friend".
The age-old "Know thyself" is a paradox. If we'd really want to do what it says, we'd have to get outside ourselves so as to be able to see ourselves as a whole. In reality, we can indeed know one or the other aspect of ourselves, but that's all. And other people can't know who we are because they can't grasp the inner aspects. All we can do is submit to what we are, without total control over it all. Admittedly a difficult exercise. But there's no way to escape (nor to escape from it). Not even through smoking lots of grass, until we forget the question. We might wake at night...
The Christians compare Jesus to a lamb.

"With one hand on the hexagram and one hand on the girl
I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world."
Who is he, above the world?
Who is this 3-dimensional Yin-Yang ball, balancing not only left and right but in all directions, including up and down?

"The stories of the street are mine"
Who says "You are mine"?
"and lost among the subway crowds I try to catch your eye."
Who became a man?

The whole inextricable tangle of everything is being given the blessing here. All of it.
A priest is not a judge.
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:05 pm

its4inthemorning wrote:.... "Stories of the Street .... I typed out the lyrics partly to facilitate making reference to them, but mostly because I find that doing so helps to immerse me in the song and helps the thinking process. (As I was copying the lyrics my mind wandered, and I imagined actually composing them...)
I have finally got the chance to read over the recent posts and like 4, I would have been overwhelmed with my abilities if I had composed any of Leonard's lyrics. I would have have worn them on my sleeve and been an insufferable nuisance to have around.

I like how both 4 and Jean went over the lines of Stories of the Street with some of their impressions. Both did a wonderful job with this very interesting song, making it even more interesting to me. It was one of those songs that I had to listen to more than once before it 'caught my eye', and I have never been very sure what any of it means.
"The age of birth....one eye filled with night." - These were always among my very favorite Cohen lyrics even during the years and years that I did not try to analyze them. Here, the war/peace or war/antiwar theme has become simply good versus evil. God and Satan produce a child, and each hopes the child will follow in his footsteps. The infant sees the dilemma he will face and tries to flee, but is hauled back. He resigns himself to a life of internal conflict between hope and good (blueprints) and bad and evil (night).
Jean Fournell wrote:"And now the infant with his cord is hauled in like a kite,
and one eye filled with blueprints, one eye filled with night."
Here I beg to differ, Its4inthemorning:
The infant does not try to flee. It seemed he was flying free, but now he's hauled down to Earth by his umbilical cord, into his incarnation.
Both day and night are required for a 24-hour Day. And right in the eye of the Yin-hurricane, there is Yang; and right in the eye of the Yang-hurricane, there is Yin.
Like 4, this part of the song has always spoke to me, and I agree with both him and Jean that the lyrics "one eye filled with blueprints, one eye filled with night" are about two opposing but inseparable realities, but I'm not sure if I agree with either regarding what those realities are.. not that I have any better ideas. But I do feel that they (along with "one hand on my suicide, one hand on the rose" have something to do with our balancing act on that wishing well while we try to catch G-d's eye.

It is Winter Break for the school where I work. Of all the breaks we get, this is by far my favorite. I am going to give Let Us Compare Mythologies one more read and then move on to The Spice Box of Earth. I have The Favourite Game waiting in the wings. The latter two are used copies I got off Amazon, and I can't help but feel they have a better home with me than with either 'Mary' or 'Sheryl' (who, according to the inscriptions, were the original owners). I thought it was interesting that in his inscription, Mary's friend 'Dan', who gifted her Spice Box, misspelled happiness as 'happyness'.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday, whatever it is you are celebrating!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby AlanM » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:16 am

I flicked through my copy of The Little Black Songbook to check the lyrics of Stories of The Street and didn’t find them (stick with me here). So, I got out my copy of Songs of Leonard Cohen that I bought in 1972 and found the song. Later I rechecked The Little Black Songbook index – yes, it is there, the pages must have stuck together during my initial search, but from that little cloud a large silver lining has appeared.
The foreword to Songs of Leonard Cohen (containing lyrics and music of all the songs on the first 2 albums) is a reprint of a 1968 New York Times article on Leonard Cohen by William Kloman. Several paragraphs of this article relate Leonard’s thoughts on protest and revolution. {see below}.
There is a brief comment that he had gone to Cuba after the Bay of Pigs debacle, but I must have forgotten that as it has only been in my memory since reading Sylvie’s book.

I had always felt that this song was about some post-apocalyptic world, and now I know about his Cuban adventure, it fits. The Cadillacs go creeping now, Through the night and the poison gas. etc.
Other thoughts:
Is he on the window sill like a seesaw so finely balanced between suicide (the hopelessness of this new world), and the hope implied by the beauty of the rose that may still grow in such a situation?
Children of the dust – I have always interpreted this as a biblical reference for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. [Genesis 3:19, KJV] However, it may refer to children inhabiting dusty streets in an impoverished reality, or both.
The Little Black Songbook has: these hundreds who are shrieking now…
In Songs of Leonard Cohen and on the Diamonds in the Lines web site it is: these hunters who are shrieking now… and that is how I hear Leonard singing it and it makes more sense. The “freedom fighters” are imposing their own ideals on the rest of us. The new order is no better than the old order.
O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel,
The lady represents beauty of the ideal of the outcome of the revolution. The stranger at your wheel has possibly stolen your Cadillac, but is steering you where you may not want to go.
You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal. The outcome of the revolution wasn’t what you expected; or was it?
And now the infant with his cord is hauled in like a kite, I love the imagery here relating the kite string to the umbilical cord, and I see the child being born having to face an uncertain future (blueprints) and possibly no future at all (night).
O come with me my little one, we will find that farm
and grow us grass and apples there and keep all the animals warm.

Can we escape this reality? I’d like to think so, but should the dream become a nightmare, I have to face reality. The animals cannot be kept warm for ever and the slaughterhouse is the inevitable end for most of them as it is for many revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.
Verse 6 in my mind is very similar to the interpretations presented by 4, Jean and Vickie.

Quotes from the foreword Songs of Leonard Cohen:
He is frozen in an anarchist’s posture, but unable to throw his bomb.
He went to Havana. Once there, however, he was unable to determine on which side to fight. Both sides were evil; both causes were holy.

Newspaper headline at the time of interview: “GREEK KING CALLS FOR REVOLT”. Cohen laughs, looking down at it. He shakes his head, eyes closed, and laughs. “It’s too much,” he says. “It breaks me up.” But somehow revolutionary kings seem appropriate in Leonard Cohen’s world.
Cohen sympathises with the protest movement in America, but fears the organization-minded mobilizers among the rebels.

Then the author quotes the 2nd verse of Stories of The Street and later quotes Leonard again: “But I want to see the real revolution. I don’t want it siphoned off by the mobilization people. It’s got to take place in every room. Revolutionaries, in their heart of hearts, are excited by the tyranny they wield. The lines are being drawn and people on both sides are beginning to terrorize each other. … I’m afraid that when the Pentagon is finally stormed, it will be by guys wearing uniforms very much like the ones worn by the guys defending it.”
There is a further song quote: I lean from my window sill … on the rose. followed by:
Will he jump? And if he does, will he be buoyed up by the breeze, in a mid-winter miracle of levitation? The tensions of his spiritual balancing act make all things seem possible.
I think this last sentence is an astute summation of Leonard Cohen.

Alan
Too much Leonard Cohen is never enough.
London 1972, Adelaide 1980, 1985, 2009
Sydney 2010; Adelaide 2010
Sydney 2013 X2; Melbourne 2013; Adelaide 2013
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:36 pm

Hi Alan!

Thank you for adding your thoughts. I never feel I have really looked at a song until we have heard from everyone at least once.
AlanM wrote:...O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel,
The lady represents beauty of the ideal of the outcome of the revolution. The stranger at your wheel has possibly stolen your Cadillac, but is steering you where you may not want to go.
I loved reading all of your interpretations and have to say that the way your sense of humor quietly pops up in the middle of it all cracks me up.

And thank you also for the additional info from the forward in your copy of Songs of Leonard Cohen.
...There is a further song quote: I lean from my window sill … on the rose. followed by:
Will he jump? And if he does, will he be buoyed up by the breeze, in a mid-winter miracle of levitation? The tensions of his spiritual balancing act make all things seem possible.
I think this last sentence is an astute summation of Leonard Cohen.

I liked this quote from the forward and your comment in response. I think it is that balancing act that draws us all to him... holding our breath and crossing our fingers and hoping he makes it.

Vickie
PS- Thank you 4 for bringing up this song.
Yikes... I am editing this to say that I just learned that I misspelled foreword as forward. I am learning so much on this forum! ;-)
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:18 pm

Alan, thanks for referring us to the Forward for "Songs of Leonard Cohen." It certainly provides a background for understanding (or trying to understand) the songs in Leonard's first album. Funny that this information was available to everyone all along (assuming we still have vinyl covers/sleeves or CD cases).

I see elsewhere on the forum that December 26 was the fiftieth anniversary of the release of "Songs of Leonard Cohen."

It is almost frightening to consider what I was doing and thinking in December, 1967, and how different my life turned out compared with how I imagined it would. Back then I imagined I would work for a large employer (wrong) in the engineering field (wrong), would wind up living in the state I grew up in (wrong, but not too far off), would marry (correct), would have two or three children (wrong, none), would live in a contemporary house (wrong) in the suburbs (wrong except the suburbs are moving to us), would have pet dogs (wrong, I discovered cats), would follow the politics of my parents (wrong), would always have music play an important part of my life (correct), and would finally master golf (not even close).

Given this significant anniversary, I propose we devote this thread to "Songs of Leonard Cohen" during January. I think there is still much to explore even though we have already discussed a couple of the songs.

I see Cohencentric is still focusing on Leonard in Oz. I saw the headline about the Webb Sisters' radio interview, it said "Hear the Webb Sisters Talk About Koala Cuddling, B6, Chicken Soup...on Radio Interview." However, my mind read the "B6" as B4," and I listened to the whole interview waiting to see how Bev had managed to meet the Webb Sisters! (Not that it was wasted time, it was an interesting interview.)

Happy New Year!

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:10 am

4!

I loved that you listened to the radio broadcast in hopes of hearing something about our friend B4. How cool that would have been.

I also loved your story of what it was like for you 50 years ago when Songs of Leonard Cohen was first recorded. It made me wonder about Leonard himself at that time. I am sure he looked back on who he was then and reflected on it in very much the same way that you did.

During the holidays, I received a Kindle copy of “Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters”, and it is hard for me to read his first interviews, because I keep thinking how unfair it is for anyone to be held responsible in any way for something they said in their youth.

Then I saw that B4 recently posted a link to a wonderful story about Leonard’s papers in Toronto.
B4real wrote:...U of T’s Leonard Cohen collection digs up diamonds in the minehttps://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/mu ... /published by Cathal Kelly
All of this has me reflecting on how we change and grow and become (hopefully) a better person as we go through life. Not that any of our journey should be discounted. It all adds up to who we are.

I loved that you propose we devote this thread to Songs of Leonard Cohen in honor of the 50th anniversary. You said there is still much to explore there, and I agree. On your advice, it was this album that I listened to first.

Of all of the tracks, it was The Stranger Song that had the biggest impact on me. It was that song that first led me (as Dave likes to refer to this past year) “down the rabbit hole”. I was struck by the guitar and the voice of course, but it was the line “And while he talks his dreams to sleep, you notice there's a highway that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder…. it is curling just like smoke above his shoulder” that put the arrow in my heart. The images that came to mind when I listen to this song… all of the faces of people I have known, including my own… all of the hellos and goodbyes, and everything in between…….. all of those things just in this one song!!

Interestingly enough, Nick's wife Maria (our daugher-in-law) also mentioned this song as one that she and Nick liked the most from the first couple albums I sent them. When I asked her why, she said it was his tone in singing it, and his guitar. I didn’t need to ask her what she meant by “tone”.

Happy New Year to you also!

Vickie
PS: I noticed you called Australia “Oz”, and also that Alan recently referred to it as that also. I had never heard that before and I was wondering why so I googled it and found it is because “Aus” is short for Australia and “Aus” has become “Oz”.
PPS: I hate that if I asked you instead of Googling it, it would make me look like I didn’t know how to use the internet LOL. I would much rather hear your answers for why it is called it that.
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B4real
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby B4real » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:53 am

Good idea 4! And it’s good to catch up with Vickie and Alan and everyone here!
Hope you all had a good Christmas!
If I don’t get back here before next year – HAPPY NEW YEAR to all 8)

At the last Aussie concert it was my pleasure to be with friends in the front row holding up that very same album cover (and I didn’t read it) of Alan’s vinyl record of Songs of LC! First record and last concert – An alpha and omega moment....

In 1967 I had left home far away for the first time and was living on an island with no cars or modern cons - just oil lamps and candles. A good place to look at the moon ;-) A time of bikinis, beaches and bell-bottom trousers, ha! Yes, to know now what I didn’t know then....

4, I didn’t read that Webb sisters interview but I remember the koala photo. What was B6? :) . A bit of serendipity on your part because I did, in fact, meet Hattie Webb – a most lovely and charming person in Townsville! I was staying at the same hotel as all the UHTC. She said Charley had a bit too much of the tropical sun and was resting – they had gone out on a yacht to visit the Great Barrier Reef. I wish I had remembered to tell her that my maternal grandmother was from Kent where the Webb sisters come from too! Hattie might have known the places and names of some of my ancestors who’ve been in that area for a thousand years.

And now on with Songs of LC album. For now, I’ve mainly concentrated on the first and probably most famous song, Suzanne, but not with the general info. As you know, I’m not so much into analysing the words in detail as I am in discovering information about them. It’s interesting to note that one of my favourite violin players in the 70’s David Lindley mostly played with another of my favourite singers Jackson Browne. In 1967 David in with a group called Kaleidoscope played violin, flute, mandolin, Jew’s harp and various Middle Eastern instruments on this first album of Leonard’s. It was acknowledged gratefully by Leonard in doing this at the time but for some reason or another wasn’t listed on the original album credits. Now it is known.
In a 2001 Mojo interview Leonard says about the relationship between himself and John Simon, producer of this album:
“We did have a falling out over the song Suzanne. He wanted a heavy piano syncopated and maybe drums and I didn't want drums on any of my songs, so that was a bone of contention. Also, he was ready to substitute this heavy chordal structure under the song to give it forward movement and I didn't like that.”

Some songs were first poems from Parasites Of Heaven 1966:

Suzanne Takes You Down – Suzanne
I Believe You Hear Your Master Sing – Master Song
I Met A Woman Long Ago – Teachers

He trusted the wrong people and lost the copyright to Suzanne and The Stranger Song but as far as I know later regained it. As he says five years later about Suzanne, “I feel very good about this song, I’ll tell you why. It’s a song that people love and fortunately, the rights of it were stolen from me, so I felt that was perfectly justified because it would be wrong to write this song and get rich from it too. So I’m happy for that ‘friend’ who put that piece of paper in front of me and said, ‘sign this’. So, I said what is this? He said, ‘Oh just the standard writer’s contract’. So I signed it and it was gone.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o6zMPLcXZ8

1972 LC forgets the words to Suzanne and does an impromptu verse
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTgJ4g_2WZk

1974 A few alternate lines of Suzanne –
And you know she’s damm-well half near crazy...
She feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from Communist China...

2008 One Last Love Affair interview with Brian D. Johnson -
When I ask which song is most daunting for him, he says, without hesitation, "The tough one for me is Suzanne." Cohen treats Suzanne as a sacrament. He performs it solo on an amplified acoustic guitar, conjuring the lost timbre of his youth with aching tenderness. "It's hard to enter it," he says. "It's a serious song. And in my own curious magical universe, it is a kind of doorway. I have to open it carefully. Otherwise what's beyond is not accessible to me. It was never about a particular woman. It was about the beginning of a different life for me, my life wandering alone in Montreal." Suzanne, he says, requires a guitar chop that took a while to remaster.

Talking about alpha and omega again – There are some songs already recorded before Leonard passed on that are inspired by the Treaty reprise on the last album. Two of the songs from this first album Suzanne and Sisters Of Mercy are among those already recorded. I have no idea if and/or when it will be released. I can only hope it will happen.
Be for real. Free yourself to find the real Self ~~ Me
Happiness is like learning the violin, the more you practice it the more it comes to you ~~ Me
Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind ~~ Gore Vidal
its4inthemorning
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:30 pm

Miscellany:

Bev, "B6" referred to vitamin B6, which one of the Webb sisters took during the tours to give her stamina.

Oz, I had mistakenly thought that calling Australia "Oz" referred to the city in "Wizard of Oz" because Australia always seems (at least to Americans) like a magical place.

Kaleidoscope, not too long ago I read (perhaps on Cohencentric) this anecdote: When Leonard was at Mount Baldy, one of the members of Kaleidoscope, who had neither seen nor spoken with Leonard since the recording of "Songs of Leonard Cohen," heard that Leonard was there and paid him a surprise visit. He went up to Leonard and asked (I am paraphrasing), "Do you remember who I am," and Leonard said something like, "of course, you are xxxxxxxxx, you played on my first album, thank you, I think your work saved that album." Talk about having a good memory!

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!

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